Theory & Approach
While the aim is to have groups of the smallest number possible for the small group breakout sessions, at times the faculty trainers may have ‘small’ groups that exceed 15-20 teachers at one time. In these situations, the smaller classroom settings are still beneficial because teachers are able to interact with each other and every teacher is required to practice a lesson before their peers. Within each group of teachers, a faculty advisor will provide assistance on the delivery of the lesson and fill in any critical content knowledge gaps. However, it is important to mention that during the smaller group sessions, participants are charged with driving the educational experience. Faculty trainers are directed to facilitate the peer evaluations by providing their observations and input; however, the emphasis is on challenging the teachers to self and peer-evaluate. This exercise serves the dual purpose of allowing teachers to improve their lessons while also their understanding of their role as professionals. In effect, they experience what it is like to take charge of one’s own learning, which facilitates their appreciation for student-centered learning methods. Finally, it is important to mention that throughout the training, the teachers are instructed in a variety of different methods. Small group discussions, team exercises, pair-share, ‘socratic questioning’, jigsaw, and K-W-L exercises are just a few of the types of methods that teachers are taught, modeled, and ultimately asked to perform before their peers.